Friday, December 26, 2008

Lulu LaRue's Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This dish is a holiday favorite at our house and much easier than actually making the original recipe for Twice Baked Potatoes. For years I tried to make Twice Baked Potatoes and they almost always turned out too dry or too runny. I was overjoyed when I learned of this recipe. It always turns out perfectly.

This is also my entry (my Potato Ho name is Lulu LaRue) for the January Potato Ho-Down, sponsored by Noble Pig and Evil Chef Mom. During January, the Ho-Down will be hosted by Fig & Cherry, so be sure to go over and take a peek at all the wonderful potato recipes on January 16th. So, let's jump in feet first, shall we?


5-6 lbs. large baking potatoes, peeled, boiled or baked

5-6 slices of bacon, cooked crispy

1/2 cup of milk

1 stick of butter

2 bunches of green onions, chopped (add a little of the green part for color)

1/3 cup chives, finely chopped

8 oz. package of cheddar cheese, grated

8 oz. container of sour cream


1. Bake or boil potatoes until tender. Once skin is removed, mash with potato masher, adding the milk and butter. The consistencey should be a bit lumpier than mashed potatoes.

2. Add the sour cream and onions, then half of the cheese and half of the bacon. Mix well.

3. Place in a casserole that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.

4. Sprinkle remainder of bacon and cheese on top of casserole.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until cheese is melted and top is slightly browned. See how simple this is? So, don't be afraid to try it. Your family and friends will love it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hearty Homemade Beef Bourguignonne Beef Stew

One of the best things about winter is having wonderful homemade soups and stews to warm you when it's cold outside. So, it just makes sense to start with a hearty beef stew. I learned this recipe at my grandmother's hip, although I've made a few changes to the recipe over the years. Let's get to it, shall we? 


1 Lb. stewing meat, chopped into bites sizes

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 large baking potatoes, chopped

15 to 20 baby carrots, sliced

3 to 4 celery ribs, sliced thin

4 to 5 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup of green bell pepper, chopped

2 cups green beans, chopped

1 - 12 oz. can of tomato sauce

2 - 12 oz. cans of diced tomatoes

1 carton of beef broth

3 to 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet

1 large or 2 small dried bay leaves

salt and pepper, to taste

Olive Oil

1 to 1-1/2 cup of Red Wine


1. Place flour, salt and pepper in brown paper or plastic bag, adding meat and shaking, in batches, until all meat is coated.

2. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven, over a medium heat.


3. Begin adding the meat and browning, adding the onions next. Cook until meat is lightly browned and onions aren't quite transparent.

4. Add the entire carton of beef broth, allowing the mix to boil, then turning heat down to a simmer.

5. Next, add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce, stirring.

6. Add the Kitchen Bouquet, the bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and allow to return to simmer. Let this mixture simmer for one hour.

7. Add the remaining vegetables to the stew and let simmer for an additional two hours. 8. Approximately ten minutes before serving add the cup of red wine and stir.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Homemade Habanero And Green Tomato Chow-Chow

This recipe has become a favorite among our friends and I get a growing number of requests for it each year. If you've never had Chow-Chow, then you are really in for a treat. This powerful little *relish* packs a mighty punch, and can be served in a large variety of ways.

It is an excellent accompaniment for a variety of beef cuts, as well as pork. It also makes a convenient last minute appetizer when poured over the top of a block of cream cheese, served with crackers. Or simply served on crackers. I swear it's delicious all by itself.

This year, we had a shortage on green tomatoes, because only one of my plants survived the triple digit heat in late Spring. After that, it was just too hot to consider planting again. Although, I did have one stubborn Sweet Cherry 100's plant that eventually provided me with a colander full of green cherry tomatoes that I took before the first freeze.

At the same time, my golfing buddy, Judy, brought me all the green tomatoes they took from their garden, so it seemed I had enough to make two cases of pint jars filled with the mysteriously hot relish. So, let's get to it, shall we?



For The Chow-Chow

10 - 12 large green tomatoes

2 each large bell peppers, one red, one green

2 large red or yellow onions

1 large head of cauliflower

1 large head of cabbage

 2 large heads of garlic

3-4 large jalapeno peppers

3-4 firm Habanero peppers

1 can of medium to large artichoke hearts

For The Pickling Liquid

6 Cups Apple Cider vinegar
2 Cups water
5-1/2 Cups sugar
1/2 CupPickling Salt
3 teaspoons whole allspice

2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
3 teaspoons celery seed
3 teaspoons mustard seed
3 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 large square of cheesecloth
kitchen twine


1. I start the pickling liquid first so that it can cook down a bit while I'm preparing the vegetables.

2. Combine first four ingredients for the pickling liquid in a non-reactive pan, over high heat.

3. Lay out a square of cheesecloth and place the remaining 6 ingredients on it. Carefully tie it closed with the kitchen twine and throw in the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low flame and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes on top of stove. Allow it to cool entirely, after removing from flame. Set aside. At this point, it can actually be kept in the fridge for up to five days before use.

5. Clean and coarsley chop the vegetables to be added to the food processor.

6. The order doesn't matter. Pour it all into a large bowl until you finish preparations. Once all of the chopping done, add the entire mixture to the pan with the pickling liquid.

7. Bring mixture to another boil. Once it has reached the point of a full rolling boil, you can turn of the heat. Now, you're ready for the canning part.

8. After running all the jars and lids through the dishwasher, I always put them in a stockpot filled with boiling water, just because I'm a real safety gal.

9. After 15 minutes of boiling the jars and lids, you can drain them on clean paper towels.

10. Fill each jar with the hot mixture, add the lid, and turn each pint jar over for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. They should pop and seal once they are turned back over.

11. Allow Chow-Chow two to three weeks of fermenting before opening a jar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Perfect Beef Tenderloin... Every Time

When my mother-in-law was still alive we always went to holidays at their house and she was a superb cook. Unfortunately, she never shared her secrets with me, then we lost her to cancer before I was ever able to get the chance to get them out of her.

Since then, I've never had much success at the whole traditional turkey and trimmings thing. I can smoke a mean turkey and I can deep fry a whole turkey, both to perfection. However, neither of our children likes turkey that much, so we started a new tradition of having beef tenderloin in place of turkey, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It has made holidays much easier with less stress, which I love.

This is my family's favorite thing to eat ever and it is the easiest recipe ever. We call it the "30-30-30 Method".  

The beauty of this recipe is that once you learn it, you'll never forget it and it never matters how large or small the tender is. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. I dare you to challenge me on this. Truly.


1 Beef Tenderloin (you can have the butcher trim it up for you if it isn't already)

1 Bottle of Pickapeppa Sauce (I usually use about 1/2 of the bottle on a good sized tender)

Garlic Powder

Black Peppercorns, freshly ground

1 Sheet of Aluminum Foil 


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread a sheet of aluminum foil over a cookie sheet and spray with Pam or other cooking spray.

3. Flop the uncooked tenderloin onto the foil and cover in Pickapeppa Sauce.

4. Next, sprinkle garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

5. Place the tenderloin in preheated oven and close the door. Set the timer for 30 minutes exactly. DO NOT OPEN OVEN FOR ANY REASON.

6. When the first 30 minutes is up, DO NOT OPEN DOOR. Turn off the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

7. When the second 30 minutes is up, you then remove the tender from the oven and place it in an area where it won't be in a draft for yet another 30 minutes, allowing the beef to *coast*.

8. When the third 30 minutes is up, you can slice and serve. You will have medium well done on the ends, slowly going to medium rare in the middle.

9. You can adjust time for more or less done, I suppose. But, this is perfect for a wide spectrum of tastes, trust me. Tried and true.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lulu Larue's Potato Crusted Tilapia With Hollandaise Sauce

This is my favorite way to prepare Tilapia and it is also my entry in The Potato Ho-Down. My Potato-Ho name is Lulu Larue, which explains the title of this recipe. We have this at least once a week here at home. I got the idea from a similar entree served at a local eatery. They serve a Potato Crusted Flounder but I like Tilapia better. Besides, I can get great frozen Tilapia at Sam's Club that are individually frozen and vacuum packed. If you'd like to join in the Potato-Ho Down, click here for rules and instructions. This was all the brainchild of Cathy @ Noble Pig. It's being sponsored by Chew On That this month. This month's date for the Potato-Ho Down is October 15th so come on and join in the FUN!

The Hollandaise Sauce recipe is from The Houston Jr. League cookbook, by a dear friend of mine, Betty Park, who died from cancer about ten years ago. She had the house next to ours at the lake and was my cooking mentor for many years. I will always miss her, but her recipes will live on. She was a Potato-Ho too and were she alive, she'd have loved all the recipes available through the internet.

Potato Crusted Tilapia:


1 Cup Instant Mashed Potato Flakes (The cheapest you can find)

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

3-4 Tilapia fillets

1 Egg, lightly beaten

1/2 Teaspoon Red Cayenne Pepper

Salt and Pepper, to taste

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Butter


1. In medium sized bowl, mix together the mashed potato flakes, flour, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

2. In another medium sized bowl, prepare the egg by beating it lightly.

3. Dip the fillet in the egg, coating it entirely.

4. Then, place the fillet in the potato flakes mixture and coat entirely.

5. Repeat process with remaining fillets.

6. In a medium sized skillet, heat one Tablespoon of butter and 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil.

7. When pan is sufficiently hot, place each fillet in pan. Saute on each side to desired doneness.

Hollandaise Sauce:


1 Cup butter

4 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped


1. Heat butter until bubbling.

2. Combine all other ingredients in blender.

3. With blender turned on, pour butter into yolk mixture in a slow stream until all is added.

4. Turn blender off.

5. Keeps well in refrigerator for several days.

6. When reheating, heat over hot, not boiling water, in a double boiler.

7. Makes approximately 1-1/4 cups of sauce.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Snooty's Divine Spiced Peach Jam

This time of year the peaches are ripe and literally the size of softballs, which is the ideal time to make some peach jam. So, let's get her going.

Preparing The Peaches:

To me, the hardest and most time consuming part is having to parboil, peel, and pit the peaches. If they are really ripe, par-boiling might not even be necessary. If not overly ripe they need to be par-boiled for one minute.

If they aren't quite all the way ripe, you should cut a simple crisscross pattern on the bottom of each peach. Boil each peach around 4 to 5 minutes. This makes them much easier to peel.

That done, set the peaches aside and allow them to cool to the point you can handle them. I also use surgical gloves for the peeling and pitting part. Now, I do as many as 12 to 18 pounds of peaches at a time, since it's such a major pain in the ass neck.

Once you have run each batch through the food processor (I only use the pulse button so there will be small chunks), batches can be stored in large containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. It won't matter if the top layer turns a bit brown, just stir before using. It's fine. I also sometimes go ahead and add the lemon juice, which helps. You can also cover it with cling wrap and see that the wrap makes contact with the pureed fruit, then refrigerate. This will help to reduce the darkening effect. Now, you're done with the preparation process.

Preparing The Jars:

I always, without fail, run all the jars and lids through the dishwasher first. However, just to be absolutely certain they're all santized, I also boil RO water in a large stockpot and boil each jar for 15 minutes.
Use a smaller pan to accommodate the lids and rings. All you have to do is pour boiling water over them and let sit until you're ready to use them. I place a large area of clean paper towels out to turn the lids and jars onto when I'm ready to use them.

Preparing The Jam:

4 Lbs. of large peaches, peeled, pitted and pureed (which come to about 4-1/2 Cups)

1/8 Teaspoon allspice (optional)

1 Package of Sure-Jell Reduced Sugar Pectin

3 Cups granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 whole lemon)

1 Teaspoon real butter (to reduce foaming)


1. Pre-measure 4-1/2 Cups of pureed fruit into a large pot.

2. Pre-measure the 3 Cups of sugar.

3. In another bowl mix about 1/3 of the sugar in with the Sure-Jell powder. Set this and the other bowl of sugar

4. If you haven't already added the lemon juice, do so now. You can also add the butter and the Allspice and mix together thoroughly.

5. Heat the mixture over a medium-high flame or med-hi setting on electric stove.

6. When mixture begins to bubble all around the edges, add the remaining amount of sugar, turn the burner to high, stirring constantly.

7. When the fruit comes to a full rolling boil, cook for exactly one (1) minute, stirring constantly. Turn off burner.

8. Begin filling jars with jam, making sure to wipe the tops & threads of the jars with a warm, wet cloth.

9. Immediately put the lids on, screw down the rings, and turn over the jars of jam for 15 to 20 minutes. Don't screw the rings too tightly or it may have an effect on the seal. Just make it firmly tightened, not over tightened.

10. When the time is up, turn the jars back over (upright) and listen for the pops, letting you know the seals have worked. Trust me when I say people will vie for your friendship once they have tasted this jam. It is absolutely amazing, but you might want to refrain from sitting down to eat an entire jar. There is usually a little amount left over from each batch, so I just put it in a refrigerator container for our own personal use.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Black Bean And Roasted Corn Salad

This has always been a popular dish at our house. Its versatility allows you to use it as a salad, a side dish, or a relish. Since the recipe is big enough to feed 6 to 8 people, we normally have it on two separate nights. For the second night I add chopped avocado and diced tomato, which really makes it a whole new dish. It's easy to make and lasts up to five days in the fridge. Besides, it happens to be really pretty with all its color.

Black Bean And Roasted Corn Salad:


4 ears of roasted corn, shucked

1 12 ounce can of black beans, drained

1 large red bell pepper, chopped (or use 1/2 each of yellow & red peppers)

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

2 limes, to be squeezed over salad

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Clean the ears of corn, being sure to keep the husks on. Tie small pieces of kitchen twine at the top and bottom of each ear of corn, then allow to soak in water for at least 30 minutes.

2. Prepare your fire, being certain to add hickory (or your wood preference) chips just before placing the ears of corn on the grill, in order to give the corn a nice, smoky flavor.

3. I usually cook them over medium heat for 15 minutes, then turn them over for an additional 15 minutes.

4. When the corn has cooled enough to be handled, scrape the corn off the cob and place in a large bowl.

5. Add the drained black beans, red onion, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno to the corn in the bowl.

6. Next, add the olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.

7. Finally, squeeze the two limes over the contents of the bowl and toss until thoroughly mixed.
This truly goes with just about every entree I can think of. Sometimes I use it as a relish over fish. You can come up with an amazing amount of different ways to use it. As I said above, the second night I add chopped tomato and avacado, which makes it a meal in itself.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Grilled Lamb Chops With Rosemary

There was a time when I refused to eat lamb. No, not because I couldn't bear to eat "Lambie Pie". It was because every place I'd ever been that served it, you could smell it the minute you walked through the door. And not in a good way.

I later came to learn that only mutton has the overbearing gamey odor. A friend who lives out on a ranch and raises sheep convinced us to come to dinner one night to have some real baby lamb and I've been a huge fan ever since. So, I'm going to share my recipe for those of you who THINK you don't like lamb. It's taste is basically like a steak, only much more tender.

Grilled Baby Lamb Chops With Rosemary:  


4 Baby Lamb Chops

1 Bottle of Ken's Lite Caesar Dressing

Dash of Garlic


Ground Pepper

Fresh Rosemary, Chopped  


1. Allow the fresh baby lamb chops to come to room temperature before grilling.

2. Coat both sides of the chops with the dressing about 20 minutes before grilling.

3. Salt and pepper both sides of the chops.

4. Cover both sides of the chops in the chopped rosemary.

5. When the coals in the grill are ready, place each chop directly over the fire. (I also like to add large hickory chips to the coals for a smokey flavor.)

6. Grill each side of the chops for approximately 4-5 minutes.

7. The Hand Method for testing doneness. Make your hand into a fist with the thumb inside. Push the fleshy part of your skin. When the meat feels like your hand, it should be medium rare.